New direction on AstraZeneca: NACI offers new advice for second shots
CALGARY -- Andrew Forsyth says he thought he was doing the right thing.
As soon as AstraZeneca vaccines became available to his age group in April, he got a shot.
He assumed he'd get AZ for his follow-up jab as well but now, he's not so sure.
That's because on Thursday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunizationns (NACI) once again changed its guidance on vaccinations, now recommending that anyone who received AstraZeneca for their first dose should get an mRNA (Pfizer, Moderna) as their second.
That introduced a whole new set of variables into the decision-making process for people like Forsyth coming up on their second shot.
"It's really frustrating to know if you're making the right decision or not," he said. "The numbers of the prevalence of blood clots (a side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine) kept changing and then also there was suddenly (unexpected) availability of (more) Pfizer (vaccines)."
"There is definitely a lot of uncertainty and weighing all the pros and cons is a tough process."
"NACI’s earlier recommendation that people who wanted earlier vaccinations could receive a viral vector vaccine (AZ) rather than wait on mRNA vaccine reflected the limited supply of mRNA vaccines at the time, and the imperative of protecting vulnerable populations from serious illness and death," said Canada's Chief Medical Health officer Dr. Teresa Tam.
Health officials maintain that AstraZeneca still provides protection against COVID-19, just not as much as mRNA ones do, especially when it comes to the powerful Delta variant.
NOT RECOGNIZED IN U.S.
Even though there are few health implications with relying on AstraZeneca, there appear to be some social ones
For example, you can't see Bruce Springsteen perform his live show on Broadway unless you have two doses of a Federal Drug Administration (FDA)-approved vaccine.
Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are all approved, but AstraZeneca is not.
Rock band the Foo Fighters also just performed their first live concert since the pandemic began, open only to fans meeting the same FDA-approved requirement.
POTENTIAL BACKFIRE FOR U.S. TOURISM
Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist at the University of Toronto said the policy could backfire on the United States tourism industry.
"Is there good reason why people with AstraZeneca should not be allowed within those venues? There is not in relation to science," he said. "I don't think they'll lose any sleep over Canadians but when things really open up and Europeans come, particularity the Brits, the amount (of people) it could exclude is huge."
Many Canadians already have received both their AstraZeneca doses and are considered fully vaccinated here and Ontario's solicitor general wants to make sure that counts in the United States as well.
"We will make sure that individuals in Ontario and Canada who received a Health Canada NACI approved vaccine will have the same right as individuals who received other vaccines," says Sylvia Jones.
Meanwhile, Andrew Forsyth says he just wished there would be more consistency in recommendations for which booster shot he should get.
"It's "definitely been something to personally navigate and it's been challenging," he says "I feel like a guinea pig, like I'm part of the trials."